The West

Super Swans needed to combat ruck duo
Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox will present a tall order for the Swans. Pic: Ian Gillespie/WA News

Sydney coach John Longmire has challenged his midfield for an extraordinary effort to ensure West Coast ruckmen Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui do not dominate at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.

The match-winning efforts of Cox and Naitanui against North Melbourne in Hobart on Saturday were not lost on Longmire yesterday as he continued preparations to try and break the Eagles' 18-game winning streak at home.

The Swans were the last team to beat West Coast at Patersons Stadium, in round three last year.

It was their fifth successive win over the Eagles.

Longmire said that match, where the Eagles led at three-quarter time before losing by 13 points, was a clear indication that West Coast were back on the march with an explosive midfield. It is there that he wants his Swans to fly high.

"Their ruck combination is as good as any going around in the competition, which is a real challenge in itself," Longmire said.

"It then gives their midfielders opportunity to get their hands on the footy and they've got some really dangerous tall forwards who are all capable of kicking goals on the end of it.

"So if they get on top in the middle of the ground it gives them a real impetus.

"Both teams have some seasoned players in that part of the ground, but also some really exciting young kids and that's a credit to both teams.

"We've been pleased that most of the time our midfield has been pretty competitive.

"We still highly value the defensive aspect of the game and the fact that you've got to get your hands on it (the ball). We've got to make sure we keep that at the forefront of our minds - win the contested ball."

Sydney ruckman Mike Pyke is likely to hold his spot alongside Shane Mumford, while Martin Mattner and Luke Parker will also be considered for a return.

Longmire said that while the two paths back to the top appeared different, the Eagles' slump to the 2010 wooden spoon was more an aberration than a bottoming-out.

He said Sydney's 2009 recruiting spree which netted Lewis Jetta, Sam Reid, Mumford, Josh Kennedy and Ben McGlynn had been significant in challenging the AFL cycle guided by strict salary cap and national draft rules.

"After playing some ripping games against each other and in grand finals, everyone would have assumed both teams would have dropped away a little bit," he said.

"But both teams try and fight the system to maintain the competitiveness without spending too much time outside the eight.

"Both teams have enormous respect for each other and have played some great games over the years, with the honours evenly split.

"It's been good, but now there's a new generation coming through for both teams and they can start to form their own rivalry."

The West Australian

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